A New Market Is Born: The Data Catalog Market Study

Stephanie McReynolds
Stephanie McReynolds VP of Marketing

We’ve seen the trend first hand. Organizations who are so successful in their adoption of self-service analytics, that their own business intelligence (BI) evangelists worry that they’ve created an analytics “wild west.” When they see a data catalog for the first time, they’re thrilled that a product exists that can govern the westand increase analyst productivity. This week Dresner Advisory Services released their Data Catalog Market Study and BI end users validated the market for data catalogs.

If you’re not familiar with them, Dresner Advisory Services conducts broad-based, end user studies of the BI market. Each year they conduct a survey to examine key user trends, attitudes and three-year plans. They’ve been publishing the analysis of these studies for more than 8 years. For many more years than that, Howard Dresner, has been a lead analyst in the business intelligence and analytics markets, first at Gartner and then as an independent analyst.

We are thrilled that the first end-user market study has been published for data catalogs. It complements industry analysis on data catalogs published by Gartner, Forrester, and the Constellation ShortList™ for Data Cataloging. What is unique about this report is that it is based on thousands of end-users who were surveyed as part of Dresner Advisory’s Wisdom of Crowds 2017.

Governance and Collaboration Features Drive Data Catalog Selection

The report provides insights into deployment trends and attitudes towards data catalogs in the BI community. I’ll share a few highlights, but the report is also available here by registration.

Users defined data catalogs by two critical sets of features, Collaboration and Governance. It is no surprise that governance features loomed large in the survey. Well over 90 percent of respondents said that this kind of governance is either “critical,” “very important” or “important.” Only 1 percent say BI content creation and sharing is “not important.”

We believe that data catalogs become most valuable when they go beyond basic governance for user access and support a deeper framework of integrations that deliver governance for insight. Apart from our customers and Dresner Advisory, other industry voices are talking about this too. We’ve teamed up with Tableau and MicroStrategy to deliver integrated products to support this approach. And Boris Evelson of Forrester Research has been writing on the topic, calling it BI Governance.

It may be more surprising that Collaboration was a key theme for BI end users. More than 70% of respondents ranked the top 4 collaboration features as “important”. These include:

  • Search and navigation for content (e.g., data, models…)
  • Annotate content (e.g., reports, dashboards, charts, data…)
  • Share content and commentary with other users
  • “Follow” objects (change/update notifications)

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In our industry, we tend to celebrate the hero data scientist or lone analyst, but what makes a data-driven organization successful are shared insights. The ease with which you can find existing reports and dashboards in a data catalog reduces the “wild” experience of self-service analytics. With access to prior knowledge — data sources, reports and dashboards can be re-used as is, or built upon to progress and push forward insight.

We’ve been working with organizations like eBay, Albertsons and Square who have a shared strong perspective on collaborative analytics and how collaboration can drive trusted, self-service analytics.

Alation Selected as the #1 Data Catalog

I’ve buried the lead here, but perhaps the thing we’re most excited about in this report is that an independent, survey-based report ranked Alation as the #1 most comprehensive data catalog available in the market today.

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2017 Wisdom of Crowds® Data Catalog Market Study
Copyright 2017 — Dresner Advisory Services

Just over two years ago we took a look at what the product team at Alation had delivered, an application that made it as easy for self-service analytics users to find, understand and trust data. The Alation Data Catalog experience made finding the right data as simple as shopping for the right product on Amazon. We’re pleased that the seed that we planted has grown into a platform for data cataloging that’s providing value in self-service analytics initiatives. We’re also excited about how Alation’s now being used in information stewardship, data lake governance and for compliance with GDPR regulations. In so many ways the work has just begun and we’re excited to grow with the support of our users and the market demand for data catalogs.

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